Occupational stress is a term used to define ongoing stress that is related to the workplace. The stress may have to do with the responsibilities associated with the work itself, or be caused by conditions that are based in the corporate culture or personality conflicts. As with other forms of tension, occupation stress can eventually affect both physical and emotional well being if not managed effectively.
Stress is an inherent factor in any type of vocation or career. At its best, the presence of stress can be a motivator that urges the individual to strive for excellence. However, excess amounts of stress can lead to a lack of productivity, a loss of confidence, and the inability to perform routine tasks. As a result, quality employees lose their enthusiasm for their work and eventually withdraw from the company.
When left unchecked, occupational stress can lead to emotional and physical disorders that began to impact personal as well as professional lives. The individual may develop a level of tension that interferes with sleep, making relaxing outside the workplace impossible. Over time, the stress can trigger emotional disorders such as anxiety, depression and in some cases various phobias that further inhibit the ability to enjoy any aspect of living.
During the middle of the 20th century, employers began to initiate programs to help reshape corporate cultures in an effort to minimize the amount of productive stress found in the workplace. For many companies, this meant developing an occupational stress definition that relevant to the individual business and the working environment as it was currently constituted. With the working definition in place, employers began to utilize resources such as confidential reporting methods, professional counseling, and employee committees to identify areas where the corporate climate could be enhanced and reduce stress levels at the same time.
Over the years, the tools used to identify and effectively deal with occupational stress have continued to evolve. Today, there is a standard occupational stress index that is used in many stress management programs to assess the potential for negative stress to undermine one or more employees. There are also various incarnations of an occupational stress indicator listing that can help individuals determine if general conditions have the potential to lead to unhealthy stress levels.
In response to tools such as the occupational stress scale, counseling and employee training programs often include individual and group counseling opportunities. These programs seek to teach employers and employees how to look at the workplace objectively, then take steps to contain or eliminate factors that are highly likely to undermine the confidence and function of employees. As a result, the company enjoys a higher level of productivity and the employee enjoys a more positive work environment within a company that is more likely to provide employment for many years to come.